We are simply overwhelmed to have won the Design et al International Design & Architecture Awards 2019 for Interior Design Scheme Europe with our Danish Summerhouse Project.
We would like to thank everyone that took the time to vote for our project in the International design & architecture awards 2019 – we are very grateful! It was a formative opportunity to work with world-renowned architect Knud Holscher in an unrivalled setting. Add to this the best clients in the world and this was the project of a lifetime. To have it recognised by some of the best architects and designers in the world was the icing on a fairly terrific cake.
Just a few statistics from Design et al: 86,923 verified votes counted and an average voter spent 53 minutes looking at all the shortlisted projects. The standard of the projects showcased was phenomenal and we feel very honoured to have come home with the trophy. As you can see from the images on the night – we were delighted.
‘Only connect’. The Fanø Summer House fuses architecture, interiors and environment. It is a place to decompress, to connect as a family and appreciate the bigger, more important picture.
The island of Fanø has always been a special place for the clients and their family: the Danish-born wife spent her summers as a child there, and in turn her family has owned a summer house there for over a decade. The family fell in love with the simple yet striking buildings that architect Knud Holscher had completed in the past. Having worked with Staffan Tollgård on their home and commercial premises in London, they invited him to join their design journey.
Born and raised in Stockholm, the idea of the summer house retreat is one that speaks strongly to Staffan’s own childhood and values:
“I take my own children back to our family’s summer house on the lake as often as I can. The connection with nature and the escape from city life act as a reset button for all of us. When designing the interiors of Fanø, I was determined to connect it as coherently to the landscape as possible: to create a retreat from city life that extended to the choice of every material and piece of furniture”.
The Scandinavian notion of the red thread is one that Staffan uses in every project as a shorthand to describe the creative design DNA. Pulling together clues from the architecture, from the cultural history, environment, from the client’s own personalities and the questions of living that need to be solved by the design, the red thread draws a protective framework around the project, linking architecture with interiors, client with design.
For this project the red thread was the visual and sensory connection with a uniquely Danish natural setting. This was expressed by fusing inside with outside as seamlessly as possible, using vernacular and true materials as simply as possible. Comfortable, functional minimalism was the goal so that the clients could enjoy every space to its fullest and detach from the buzz of city life left behind.
The summer house is a coherent, hard-working family house that has evolved from its setting and from the clients’ clear vision of how to embrace and enjoy this environment. It is a house that puts family life first – and as a design practice that specialises in designing for families this was our favourite aspect of the project.
The key ingredients of the house are deliberately low-maintenance: one of the decisions to use a natural-looking ceramic floor tile was based on this connection between inside and outside that had to be managed (in order to be enjoyed!). Lots of sand and water get tracked into the house by the kids as well as the family Portuguese water-dog. Decisions to use low maintenance, easygoing fabrics and bullet-proof floor tiles allow the family to genuinely relax together and use the spaces in an unpressurised way.
The layouts of the open-plan living room encourage people to sit down together, enjoy the view, play board games, cards or just chat. The TV is hidden for most of the time in a bespoke cabinet so it’s deliberately not the focal point of the room.
The two seating areas are anchored and connected by a double-sided modular sofa from Living Divani. Neutral, slubby linens are the base layer for the fabric design, accented by teal backed cushions from UK designer Eleanor Pritchard whose designs have a decidedly mid-century feel to them. The mirrored seating areas tell stories of two eras of Danish design history. On the one side, KBH’s sculptural armchairs are certainly a future design classic. On the other side near the fireplace, two Carl Hansen lounge chairs whisper their firmly established design pedigree.
It’s a room all about connection: strengthening family life through shared hobbies and easy-living spaces, delighting through a love of design: Danish and further afield, connecting with the seascape beyond and nature’s call to be at one with the world.
A perfect marriage of architecture and interiors
The design fully answers the client’s brief of creating a retreat that puts family life first through a strong connection with nature, and by designing in the opportunities for a family to connect with each other. There is a seemingly effortless connection between the interior and exterior architecture, and then between inside and outside. For so many of our projects we insert a contemporary interior into a 300-year-old building. Of course, the juxtaposition created by this has its merits. Here though, it was enormously satisfying to create the interiors in real time alongside a world-renowned architect crafting a modern dwelling entirely fit for purpose.
For Staffan it has been the project of a lifetime.
“I left Stockholm for the UK more than half my life ago and have worked on design projects in Asia, America, the Middle East and all over Europe.
Here is a family who have lived internationally for years but whose souls also long for home – the design journey into this shared heritage was all the more rewarding.
The hero of the piece
The house and its interiors were explicitly designed to reflect and lionise the exterior setting. It is the hero of the piece in a way that most of our projects are not allowed to be. A few, very carefully curated materials were selected so as to blend into the environment and make sure that attention is never deflected away from the view.
The external cladding of the private wing becomes the internal backdrop of the entertaining wing, the same material (oak) then used in an unstained format in the kitchen, bathroom cabinets and wardrobes. A large format, roughly textured neutral floor tile is used throughout the house on floors and in the bathroom walls, making the inter-connected spaces feel even larger. Large floor-toceiling windows frame curated views into the landscape, almost like still lives. Exposed brickwork on the chimney breast expresses the truth to materials so common in Scandinavian design. The natural world, or materials as close as possible to nature bring the outside in at every key junction and design decision.
KBH: key collaborators
An important design decision was made early on to work with Copenhagen-based atelier KBH on the bespoke kitchen, wardrobes and bathroom cabinets, ensuring an easy flow of materials through room to room. Hand-etched lava stone for the basin tops from Italian atelier Made a Mano introduces subtle geometric patterns, an example of how natural materials are elevated through craft and subtly layered to create interest.
The collaboration with KBH also resulted in some key functional sculptures that act as room dividers, furniture and social magnets and continue the expression of the red thread. The open plan living and dining spaces are gently zoned using a cabinet on stand that can be accessed from both sides: bar, TV cabinet as well as storage for games and hobbies. Continuing this multi-functional theme, the dining table effortlessly becomes a ping pong table – one of the family’s shared passions.
Famous last words …
Fanø is a place to decompress, to connect with nature, to put down cell phones and look out at the bigger, more important picture. To be with their children, to be more at peace and live a simpler life. These were the client’s hopes and dreams for their sand dune retreat. The amount of time they are drawn back to it, is testimony to its success and here at Tollgard Design Group we’re so very glad that it won the International design & architecture awards 2019: European Interiors Scheme.
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